Dear Reader,

It is February when I am sitting down to write this. The light outside my window is bright, but diffused and harsh as it fights its way through heavy cloud cover. I too am feeling heavy and a little bit lost- and it is a familiar feeling that comes every February. A stillness emerges towards the middle of January, after the hustle and glow of the holiday season dies down, and I feel the fullness of winter wrapping its long arms around the short days and long nights. It feels like winter is endless at this point in the year, and all the exuberance I brought into November and December, delighting in the wearing of sweaters, lighting all of the candles, the consecutive hours of Vince Guaraldi tracks playing Charlie Brown Christmas…all of this fades. I am left feeling, meh.

Many years ago, my partner and I made a rule for February, which we follow to this day. We do not make any big decisions for the entire month. At first, this rule was in response to the many, many bad decisions made by one or both of us during the year’s longest/shortest month. Who makes good decisions out of desperation? We capped our final year of making poor decisions in February with a pivot from breaking up to adopting a very large, very loud cat, whom we named Mr. Pants. Honestly, Mr. Pants ended up being a great decision, but the rule was a necessary one, and we have honored it ever since.

At first, following the rule felt like a deep resignation, or giving up, somehow. However, over time, I have come to consider No Decision February as a deeply restorative, and very conscious choice, in and of itself. I know, I know, isn’t that ironic? (insert 90s nod to Alanis). As I enter into what is arguably the deepest pocket of winter, a time that is typically more parts hibernation than activation, it feels freeing to take a pause on decision-making, outside of the simple, daily needs of life. It feels like I am giving myself radical permission to not know, to be unclear, inexact, to wander and be a little bit lost. It feels ethereal, liminal- yeah, ambiguous. Meh.

We spend so many hours of our waking life feeling pressed upon to make decisions. And not just simple ones, and certainly not just choices that only affect us. As a parent, I lose count how many times my 10-year-old asks me a question. Although, these questions tend to be more in the order of, “would you rather have feet for hands, or hands for feet?” This one was actually very hard for me to answer, and it sort of gave me nightmares. But I digress. Simply put, decision fatigue and analysis paralysis are real, and in the month of February, the fatigue only deepens.

Now, dear reader, this post may feel like a real downer, but, I have more to share, and hopefully, some light to add to all of this shadow. As I wrote earlier, No Decision February has become a restorative, actively conscious period of time for me. While I set aside the big choices, the significant decisions, I end up cultivating an abundant space for the small and the subtle. As a somatic therapist- this is my wheelhouse- I believe in micro shifts that happen over time to create seismic shifts in nervous system response, emotional regulation, and overall balance and wellbeing. During this month, I invite my focus to soften, my peripheral vision to blur, and I am left to ebb and flow in the soft contours of the present moment. At first, this feels strange, and I get this almost anxious feeling in the back of my mind- that feeling you get when you are pulling out of your driveway and the thought “did I turn off the stove?” comes sneaking into your consciousness. But, eventually, progressively, slowly, I can relax into this state of idleness, and with it an experience of feeling unhurried, open, and still.

There are many benefits of practicing periods of rest, restoration, and stillness, such as:

-Lowering blood pressure
-Improving digestion
-Reducing stress
-Improving focus and mood
-Increasing blood flow to major muscles
-Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
-Controlling blood sugar levels and more
-Boosting immune system function
-Improving quality of sleep

In our daily lives, we receive so many messages to stay focused, be engaged, stay busy. I wonder, what are the signals in your life that ask you to slow down, be still, quiet the mind, be mindful- be at ease? I wonder if we can value idleness as much as tend to value productivity?

As spring is nearing, and our part of the world is preparing to burst with color, smells and sounds of new life, I ask you dear reader, to soften to stillness, allow yourself to meet each day, and each breath with the intention of being a bit lost, a bit wandering. There will be plenty of time soon for action- now is still the time for rest.

Here is a simple daily practice I like to do at night as I unwind to help remind me to slow down, be still, and be at ease: Legs Up the Wall Pose

Clear a space near a wall (make sure there are no shelves or items hanging on this wall)

You may want to have a blanket, towel, or yoga mat for extra support.

-Place your mat (blanket or towel will work) against the wall.
-Next sit sideways on the edge of your mat with your right hip against the wall.
-Place your left shoulder down on the edge of the mat and at the same time scoot your bottom right up to the wall.
-Next roll over on your back as you lift your feet up the wall. You can rest your lower back on the mat, or if you want extra support, use a bolster or rolled towel beneath your hips .
-You can keep your legs straight, or gently bend your knees and have your feet lower on the wall.
-Rest here for a few minutes.


Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

From A Thousand Mornings, Poems by Mary Oliver, p. 23
Published by Penguin Books 2013
© 2012 by NW Orchard LLC